Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shoppers across Canada will soon have to pay for the privilege of carrying their purchases out of the store in a plastic bag.
Wal-Mart stores in Canada will charge 5 cents each for thin-film bags beginning Feb. 9 in British Columbia, and rolling out progressively across the rest of the provinces over the following months, the retail giant announced Jan. 25. The 5-cent bags will be offered only on customer request and reusable bags will be sold at a discounted 25 cents.
“Recent internal research has identified that our customers feel we use too many plastic bags and that the reduction and elimination of plastic bags are the responsibility of both consumers and retailers,” said Lee Tappenden, chief operations officer at Wal-Mart Canada, in a news release. “While we recognize our ultimate goal of eliminating plastic film from our operations altogether won't happen overnight, we believe our customers are open to supporting this goal by switching to reusable bags.”
Part of the proceeds from the chain's in-house fee will go to support plastic film recycling initiatives. The big-box store also is looking to improve in-store plastic recycling and collection programs and is working with suppliers to reduce plastic packaging, according to a spokeswoman.
Wal-Mart Canada's greening efforts already include 12 other waste-reduction programs, including ones for cardboard and metal, which the company says have reduced its landfillable waste by 72 percent.
Will Wal-Mart eventually start charging for bags in the United States, too? In its U.S. stores, Wal-Marts that are located in areas that ban or charge for plastic bags follow local ordinances, the company said.
“We make affordable reusable cloth bags available for purchase at our stores, and, in most communities, customers also have access to 100 percent recyclable plastic bags that can be returned to Wal-Mart for recycling,” Bentonville, Ark.-based spokeswoman Marilee McInnis told Plastics News via email. “Wal-Mart U.S. continuously reviews our bag offerings to make sure we are serving the customer in the best possible way.”